Overhanging Trees & hedges are a nuisance. If any of yours overhang a footpath or pavement, the council could insist that you cut it back. Ignore their request and you could land yourself a bill from them for doing the work in the interests of public safety. Your neighbour can legally cut back any parts of trees or bushes that overhang onto their property. Legally, the bits they cut off (including any fruit on them) are yours, so they should return it to you or ask your permission to keep it.
Spreading Roots can cause damage to foundations or cause the soil to dry out and result in subsidence. If roots from a tree in your garden cross the boundary into a neighbours property, it is considered trespassing and your neighbour can legally chop the roots without asking you first.
Sprawling Ivy or Creepers - on your home’s exterior can block guttering and drains and cause damp. If there are holes or cracks in brickwork, then ivy will weave its way in and potentially cause more damage. Although research has found that ivy on walls can act as a ‘blanket’ and insulate the property from extremes of temperature and protect against pollution, you must still trim it back away from roof tiles and around windows.
High Evergreen Hedges - can block light from property. If your neighbour is affected, they can complain to the council. If it is considered too high (at least 2 metres) and is restricting their light, access or enjoyment of their property, you can be forced to reduce its height. Failure to comply could result in you getting fined. In any case, the higher these evergreen hedges grow, the harder they become to maintain, so it’s better to keep them in order.
Certain Weeds are detrimental to buildings and must be eradicated. They can also grow very quickly and overwhelm native plants, which is bad for our eco-systems.
Most unwelcome is Japanese Knotweed, which can spread at a ferocious rate and penetrate through concrete causing extensive structural damage. Its so damaging that it is an offence to plant or cause Japanese knotweed to spread in the wild under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and all waste containing Japanese knotweed comes under the control of Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Go to www.environment-agency.gov.uk for information on identification and how to eradicate it.
Giant Hogweed is also listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which means it’s an offence to plant it in the wild. Any contact with the plant can cause severe skin irritation. The plant can grow to 5m tall, and the seed heads contain up to 50,000 seeds which can stay dormant for up to 15 years.
Other plants listed by Natural England and named in the Weeds Act 1959 are: Common Ragwort, Spear Thistle, Creeping or Field Thistle, Curled Dock and Broad-leaved Dock. It is not an offence to have them in your garden or on your land, but you must not allow them to spread onto agricultural land, because they are poisonous to animals.
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A grotty, falling down garden fence will make even a well kept garden look unloved so make sure yours is in good nick. A dilapidated fence is also likely to annoy your neighbours and whilst there is nothing they can do to force you to repair it, ignoring requests will only create bad feeling. If you are unsure who owns the boundary fence, check the title deeds but usually the side with the fence posts or struts is the owner.
Whilst there’s no law prohibiting garden fires or the times they can be lit, they’re not likely to be popular with your neighbours and can be quite polluting. Don’t burn anything which will create excessive smoke or noxious fumes - although bonfires can be the best way to get rid of diseased garden waste. Try to compost as much as you can and recycle household rubbish rather than burning it.
This article is written in good faith. Martin Roberts cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content and cannot be held responsible for any losses (directly or indirectly) resulting from using the information given.